The Last Grace

purgatoryangelAn Angel, Freeing the Souls from Purgatory by Ludovico Carracci, c1612

 

ALL SOULS’ DAY

 

Having been away from home for most of the past two months, I am still catching up on many things, and so am out of a rhythm with my writing. I hope to be on a better track by next week.

I am watching and praying with all of you, especially my American friends as a painful election looms…

 

HEAVEN is only for the perfect. It is true!

But then one might ask, “How can I get to Heaven, then, for I am far from perfect?” Another might answer saying, “The Blood of Jesus will wash you clean!” And this too is true whenever we sincerely ask forgiveness: Jesus’ Blood takes away our sins. But does that suddenly make me perfectly selfless, humble, and charitable—ie. fully restored to the image of God in whom I am created? The honest person knows that this is rarely the case. Usually, even after Confession, there are still remnants of the “old self”—a need for deeper healing of sinful wounds and cleansing of intention and desires. In a word, few of us truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength, as we are commanded to.

That’s why, when a forgiven but imperfect soul dies in God’s grace, the Lord, out of both His mercy and justice, provides the last grace of Purgatory. [1]Though not to be understood as the last grace ever bestowed on a soul in eternity.  It is not a second chance, but rather, a merit won for us on the Cross. It is a state that a saved soul passes through in order to perfect it and thus enable it to receive and be united to the pure light and love of God. It is a state in which God’s justice corrects and heals the soul of the injustices which that soul did not make reparation for on earth—the selflessness, humility, and charity which the soul ought to have expressed, but did not.

Therefore, let us not take for granted the gift of God’s forgiveness, which cleanses us of every sin. For the intent of Christ is not only to reconcile us to the Father, but to restore us in His image—to replicate Himself in us.

My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you! (Galatians 4:19)

Reconciliation, that is, the forgiveness of our sins is just the beginning. The rest of Christ’s redemptive work is to sanctify us in order that we may “live and move and have our being” [2]Acts 17:28 in total union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And this unity, at least in spirit, is not intended to be something reserved only for Heaven, as if this life is without the peace and communion that belongs to the saints. As Jesus said,

I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Purgatory, then, is a perpetual sign of hope that, despite our imperfections, God will complete His work of redemption in those who are reconciled to Him. Purgatory is also a reminder that this life is intended to bring us into union with God here and now.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

Last, Purgatory reminds us that we are One Body in Christ, and that the “imperfect” who have gone before us need our prayers, since our merits can make reparation for what they no longer can.

On this solemnity commemorating all the faithfully departed, let us thank God for the gift that Purgatory is, and pray that He will hasten all souls into the fullness of the Kingdom this very night.

 

RELATED READING

On Temporal Punishment

The Illuminating Fire

 

Thank you for your tithes and prayers—
both very much needed. 

 

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1. Though not to be understood as the last grace ever bestowed on a soul in eternity.
2. Acts 17:28
Posted in HOME, FAITH AND MORALS.